Connect with us

U.S.

SCOTUS Reinstates South Carolina’s Witness Signature Requirement

Published

on

  • During the first day of the new Supreme Court term, the court sided with Republicans in South Carolina and reinstated a mandate that requires absentee ballots to have a witness signature. 
  • While they said that ballots that have already been cast or that will be received in the next two days will be exempt, many still oppose the rule.
  • Democrats believe it will suppress votes, as it could be harder to obtain a signature during the pandemic. Lower courts agreed with this argument.
  • Legal experts think this this order is crucial and could serve as a sign that the court could rule against voting liberties in the future.

SCOTUS Order in South Carolina

The Supreme Court reinstated a mandate in South Carolina that requires voters to get a witness signature for their absentee ballots.

The court made the order on Monday, the first day of their new term. This mandate is favored by Republicans and has been condemned by Democrats who believe that obtaining the signature is limiting for voters, especially during a pandemic. Lower courts suspended the rule because they believed it would interfere with a person’s ability to vote during COVID-19. 

However, the Supreme Court said the mandate should be reinstated, arguing it was consistent with other decisions. There were no noted dissents. 

“This Court has repeatedly emphasized that federal courts ordinarily should not alter state election rules in the period close to an election,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote. 

Kavanaugh also wrote that regarding the pandemic, state election rules “should not be subject to second guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” 

The court did allow exceptions for ballots that had already been cast or that will be received by officials within the next two days. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch would have ordered that any ballot, regardless of when it had been sent, should not be counted if it did not have a witness signature. According to the Associated Press, more than 200,000 absentee ballots have been mailed in the state and 18,000 have been returned.

Responses and Implications

The order was celebrated by Republicans, including GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who believes this is a win for their party and election integrity. 

“Despite the Democrats’ efforts to hijack a pandemic and use it to meddle with our election laws, they’ve lost,” Drew McKissick, the head of the South Carolina Republican Party said in a statement. “We’re pleased the Supreme Court reinstated the witness signature requirement and recognized its importance in helping to prevent election fraud.”

However many believe rules like this witness signature mandate are all part of greater voter suppression efforts, which are largely led by the Republican party. Some believed this could effectively swing the vote in favor of Republican candidates both in the state and in the presidential race. 

The African American Policy Forum tweeted a thread explaining the dangerous implications of this order, writing that in every state, Republicans are “fighting to make it harder to vote and easier to throw out ballots.”

“Today’s SCOTUS order concerning South Carolina’s absentee ballot witness requirement is one such example,” the group wrote. “Sadly, there will be many more such decisions between now and November.”

This order is significant, as it pertains to an election-related case just under a month away from one of the most consequential presidential elections in the country’s history. Rick Hasen, a legal scholar and law election expert at the University of California-Irvine, wrote that it could hint at how the court could vote in future voting cases.

“This sends a strong signal that the Supreme Court is going to be wary of federal court ordered changes close to the election, even those done to deal with burdens on voters created by the pandemic,” Hasen wrote. 

“This is a signal that this continues to be a Court not willing to strongly protect voting rights.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Wall Street Journal) (Reuters)

U.S.

Conservatives Slam Elmo For Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19 

Published

on

While critics accused the muppet of promoting propaganda, CDC data shows the shots are safe and effective.


Elmo Gets Vaccinated 

Conservative politicians expressed outrage on Twitter after the beloved “Sesame Street” character Elmo revealed he got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently cleared the way for children between the ages of six months and five years to get vaccinated against the virus. The famous red muppet is three years old, making him finally eligible for the jab. 

In a video shared by “Sesame Street,” Elmo said that he felt “a little pinch, but it was okay.” 

Elmo’s father, Louie, then addressed parents who might be apprehensive about vaccinating their own kids. 

“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine,” he said to the camera. “Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice.” 

“I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love,” he continued. 

Republicans Criticize “Sesame Street”

While some praised the video for raising awareness and addressing the concerns parents may have, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) quickly lambasted the effort.

“Thanks, Sesame Street for saying parents are allowed to have questions,” Cruz tweeted. “You then have Elmo aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5. But you cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.”

Despite Cruz’s claim, the CDC has provided ample resources with information on vaccines for children. 

He was not alone in criticizing the video. Harmeet Dhillon, a committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California, suggested that Elmo would be taking puberty blockers next. 

Other anti-vaxxers claimed Elmo would get myocarditis and accused “Sesame Street” of promoting propaganda.

COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective against transmission of the virus, but this is not the first time conservatives have turned their anger against a friendly-looking muppet who opted to get the jab. When Big Bird got vaccinated in November, Cruz and other right-wing figures accused the show of brainwashing kids.

Big Bird’s choice to get vaccinated was not a shocker though, clips dating back to 1972 show him getting immunized against the measles. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Market Watch)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Uvalde Puts Police Chief on Leave, Tries to Kick Him Off City Council

Published

on

If Pete Arredondo fails to attend two more consecutive city council meetings, then he may be voted out of office.


Police Chief Faces Public Fury

Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave Wednesday following revelations that he and his officers did not engage the shooter at Robb Elementary for over an hour despite having adequate weaponry and protection.

Superintendent Hal Harrell, who made the announcement, did not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid.

Harrell said in a statement that the school district would have waited for an investigation to conclude before making any personnel decisions, but chose to order the administrative leave because it is uncertain how long the investigation will take.

Lieutenant Mike Hernandez, the second in command at the police department, will assume Arredondo’s duties.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune earlier this month, Arredondo said he did not consider himself in charge during the shooting, but law enforcement records reviewed by the outlet indicate that he gave orders at the scene.

Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state senators on Tuesday that some officers wanted to enter the classrooms harboring the shooter but were stopped by their superiors.

He said officer Ruben Ruiz tried to move forward into the hallway after receiving a call from his wife Eva Mireles, a teacher inside one of the classrooms, telling him she had been shot and was bleeding to death.

Ruiz was detained, had his gun taken away, and was escorted off the scene, according to McCraw. Mireles later died of her wounds.

Calls for Arredondo to resign or be fired have persisted.

Emotions Erupt at City Council

Wednesday’s announcement came one day after the Uvalde City Council held a special meeting in which community members and relatives of victims voiced their anger and demanded accountability.

“Who are you protecting?” Asked Jasmine Cazares, sister of Jackie Cazares, a nine-year-old student who was shot. “Not my sister. The parents? No. You’re too busy putting them in handcuffs.”

Much of the anger was directed toward Arredondo, who was not present at the meeting but was elected to the city council on May 7, just over two weeks before the massacre.

“We are having to beg ya’ll to do something to get this man out of our faces,” said the grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old victim. “We can’t see that gunman. That gunman got off easy. We can’t take our frustrations out on that gunman. He’s dead. He’s gone. … Ya’ll need to put yourselves in our shoes, and don’t say that none of ya’ll have, because I guarantee you if any of ya’ll were in our shoes, ya’ll would have been pulling every string that ya’ll have to get this man off the council.”

One woman demanded the council refuse to grant Arredondo the leave of absence he had requested, pointing out that if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings the council can vote him out for abandoning his office.

“What you can do right now is not give him, if he requests it, a leave of absence,” she said. “Don’t give him an out. We don’t want him. We want him out.”

After hearing from the residents, the council voted unanimously not to approve the leave of absence.

On Tuesday, Uvalde’s mayor announced that Robb Elementary is set to be demolished, saying no students or teachers should have to return to it after what happened.

We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.

Continue Reading

U.S.

Texas Public Safety Director Says Police Response to Uvalde Shooting Was An “Abject Failure”

Published

on

New footage shows officers prepared to engage the shooter one hour before they entered the classroom.


Seventy-Seven Deadly Minutes

Nearly a month after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers, evidence has emerged indicating that police were prepared to engage the shooter within minutes of arriving, but chose to wait over an hour.

The shooting at Robb Elementary began at 11:33 a.m., and within three minutes 11 officers are believed to have entered the school, according to surveillance and body camera footage obtained by KVUE and the Austin American Statesman.

District Police Chief Pete Arredondo reportedly called a landline at the police department at 11:40 a.m. for help.

“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot… They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have firepower right now. It’s all pistols.”

At 11:52 a.m., however, the footage shows multiple officers inside the school armed with at least two rifles and one ballistic shield.

Law enforcement did not enter the adjoined classrooms to engage the shooter until almost an hour later, at 12:50 p.m. During that time, one officer’s daughter was inside the classrooms and another’s wife, a teacher, reportedly called him to say she was bleeding to death.

Thirty minutes before law enforcement entered the classrooms, the footage shows officers had four ballistic shields in the hallway.

Frustrated Cops Want to Go Inside

Some of the officers felt agitated because they were not allowed to enter the classrooms.

One special agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting started, then immediately asked, “Are there still kids in the classrooms?”

“It is unknown at this time,” another officer replied.

“Ya’ll don’t know if there’s kids in there?” The agent shot back. “If there’s kids in there we need to go in there.”

“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” the other officer responded.

According to an earlier account by Arredondo, he and the other officers tried to open the doors to the classrooms, but found them both locked and waited for a master key to arrive. But surveillance footage suggests that they never tried to open the doors, which a top Texas official has confirmed were never actually locked.

One officer has told reporters that within minutes of the police response, there was a Halligan bar, which firefighters use to break down locked doors, on-site, but it was never used.

At a special State Senate committee hearing Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw called the police response an “abject failure” and “antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”

“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from (entering rooms) 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said. “The officers have weapons, the children had none.”

We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.

Continue Reading